Old 01-04-08, 08:25 AM
But on the road more
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Originally Posted by BSLeVan View Post
Riding a bike is safer. Take a look at the figures on this site, and you'll see that even folks walking are killed more often. http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
Sort of. I'd be very careful in interpreting these numbers (I'm a FARS researcher). These are count data- simple numbers of fatalities. What is more important than this is the fatality rate- and for this you need a denominator. This could be the number of people exposed or the number of miles walked/ridden/driven, etc. Many, many, many more miles are walked than cycled- unfortunately, we don't have a good sense of this number, but a reasonable guesstimate would put the fatality rate for cyclists at a much higher level than that for pedestrians. We're trying to figure out exactly why that is- and you can't get at this issue just from FARS.

I can tell you that of all fatal crashes reported to FARS (and that's just about all of them that occur in the US, territories, and possessions), the proportion that involved a pedalcycle (this includes trikes and even unicycles) is very low. However, in about 99% of the fatal crashes that involved a cyclist, it was the cyclist who died.

Sorry, but those are the cold facts. We're no match for a ton of steel, no matter how it hits.

So, that said, I believe there are two ways to avoid a crash: vehicular riding and defensive riding. The two aren't contradictory, by any means. And they won't completely mitigate the risk of a crash, fatal or otherwise. I can't help but believe that practicing (constantly) safe riding skills (stopping at stop signs, stopping for red lights, even for turns-on-red, yielding the right of way to pedestrians (and never, ever riding on sidewalks), using hand signals (all the time), making eye contact with drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, etc., etc. are the key to staying as safe as possible on a bike. Only one thing bugs me as much as an unhelmeted cyclist- one that sails through stop signs and red lights with nary a thought. Ugh.
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